tv Governor Scott Walker on National Policy Issues CSPAN February 2, 2015 12:40am-1:41am EST
'm delighted that everyone is here for the first of the fred malek lecture series. fred founded the american action form. we turn five in january. it seemed appropriate to recognize his contributions and a lasting way. we have named this lecture series after fred, our founding chairman of the board. it will convene roughly every two months and is dedicated to effective of the policy. it shares the spirit of the american action forum that tax on the ground are important, but less those turn into effect a policy, it is not enough. we are pleased today to open this year's -- the lecture series. we are pleased to have fred here. [applause] >> i'm going to start by
explaining what the american action forum is. i would like to complement doug and the american action what the american action forum and say a word on them. i founded this with the idea that we need to bring together policy ideas from the right to the modern -- moderate in a way that is compelling to the american people. i must say, it has far exceeded expectations i have had. it has been a phenomenal success thanks to you, your team, you fought way above your weight. it has had a powerful influence on policy formulation in this country. i am not going to talk too much about scott walker's accomplishments as governor or his biographical background.
because you all have that in your handouts or have it in your knowledge. accomplishments aslet me just tell you about who i think scott walker is. and why i'm so pleased to have him here to open the series of talks today. about six years ago, i was at a form -- forum and scott walker was county executive. i think it was sun valley. he was there as a competitor for the nomination of governor of wisconsin. he was county executive of milwaukee county. i asked for information about scott walker, and someone give me some background. i learned that, as county executive, he had been elected twice. three times? >> one special, two regular. >> the walkie county, being an executive is a big deal. the whole in environment of one special, two regular. >> it. when i looked at the record of what he had done, he had cut taxes.
cut expenses, improved education. he was elected by a 20 point margin in a very blue county. we looked at the results from the 2008 election. barack obama carried that election over mccain like 20 points. scott walker won his election by 20 points. i said, this guy must have some kind of magic. i hope he goes on to the next stage. if he does, it will be a whole different ballgame. not only did he get elected, but he did exactly what he said he would do. i am a businessman. i admire people who look you in the eye and say, this is what i am going to do. then they go out and do it to the letter. they have the ability not only to talk about it but to get it done and execute against that. that is what he did as governor. he had to run again in 2012
where he won again. i guess what impresses me most about this young governor is he says what he is going to do, follows through, and gets it done. he has the courage to withstand pressures that come against him. he is a west pointer and former green beret, i like to use this analogy. i like my leader to be someone i would want in a foxhole in a firefight. i cannot big of anybody i would rather be in a foxhole with then governor scott walker. scott? [applause] >> thanks, fred. that is a high comment. coming from somebody from west point, with your military and business experience. your leadership, and some new
ways, they have been good friends to a net and i for something. i appreciate your help and assistance. i think of people like susana martinez, johnny case of, rick snyder, the list goes on. leaders all across this country at the state level who arguably, many of us would not be in place without your leadership. doug, thank you. for your leadership here and in the past. when i was involved with the national governors association. you would share information with us. we appreciate your leadership here as well. appreciate your opportunity to share in this first of the series, of which i'm sure there will be many great speakers to come. i came in late last night. i have to tell you, even though i have been here plenty of times, i love coming in at night. things have safe and up enough that you can come in from the north.
it is beautiful seeing the national cathedral and coming along the potomac and seeing the kennedy center. seeing the lincoln and at washington, the jefferson memorial. there is something wonderful about coming in fresh to the nation's capital. i have never lost that, looking at those great monuments and thinking about the great leaders of our time in this country. i have to tell you, as much as i love coming here, i love going home more. not just because i love wisconsin. but in many ways, i think the respect many of the people are trying to change with this organization and others like it, a lot of folks in washington, there is kind of a dome. 68 square miles surrounded by reality. there is a big difference between washington and the rest of the country. part of what i want to talk about is that contrast. not just between washington and
wisconsin but washington and the rest of america. what i see here and have seen for years, even more so in the last few years, under this administration, is a place where, in washington, it is kind of a top-down government with a tired approach that has not worked in the past and i do not think will work in the future. what i see in the states outside of washington is a craving for something new, something fresh, something dynamic. that says and set of the top-down approach, we want something built up with bold ideas from not only state but local communities. the top-downin a way it is part of why we talked about our american revival. the next step in making the case that we need to transfer power power from our nations capital in washington back to the states and city -- cities of this country so the hard-working people of this country can holder government accountable at
the state and local level more so than they can washington. i think the people of this country want a more efficient and accountable government. they will get that when that power is transferred from washington to the states and ultimately to the people. in wisconsin, we are a great example. as fred alluded to, we have taken on the big government special interests, many of whom are based in the nation's capital. four years ago, you saw many leaders of the afl-cio, other organizations, coming to our state. trying to intimidate us to do what they wanted done in washington. and we won. part of the reason i was the number one target in america in terms of a reelect from any of those organizations won. is because they were upset that we took their power away. we took the power away from the special interests in washington and elsewhere around the country.
we put that power firmly in the hands of hard-working taxpayers. i believe that is why even in wisconsin, a state that has not gone republican for president in more than 30 years since 1984, that is a state we have one not once but twice but three times. in a state where we face not only tremendous challenges in the recall election that some of those same challenges last fall in the reelection for governor, we were able to win not only on elections but more important, we won in policy. there are a number of examples. i assume we will take some questions in just a little bit. we will talk in greater detail about some of this. we have seen tremendous turnaround when it comes to the economy in our state. we have seen our financial situation, in terms of stability, restored. we have seen innovations in health care and other areas. i want to tell you two quick stories about areas i think reflect the difference between
washington and wisconsin and the state. one involves a young woman named megan. at the beginning of 2010, about five years ago, megan sampson was a brand-new teacher in the milwaukee public school system. she was a teacher she would want in any school district certainly in our state. she was in milwaukee, like many urban school district's across america, it has been continuously challenged. she found out early on in 2010 that she was named the outstanding teacher of the year in wisconsin for english teacher. she was one of the top teachers. she found out about that. and not long after, she found out she is being laid off. being laid off. under myunder my predecessor, they cut moneys to public school. unlike what we do not long after, they gave no tools react to it.
what did they do in the lucky? what many other school district's around the country when it were faced with tough economic choices and went ahead with layoffs, how do they do them? under the old union contract that said the last hired is the first fire. so megan sampson was one of the first to be laid off because she was one of the last to be hired in that district. our reforms that came about that got the nation's attention and the protests that came because of the early stages of that debate, our reforms changed that broken system. today, it is not just about balancing budgets. our reforms now in power schools to hire and fire on merit. two paid based on performance. to put the best and brightest in their classrooms. we have seen great success. from the last four years graduation rates have been up. third-grade reading scores are up.
it is more than just talk. we have seen action. the people we elect at the school district are now the people in charge. to me, that is a prime example of where you take power away from big government special interests, driven by those here in washington, and put it in the hands of hard-working taxpayers. in the case of schools, people they elect at the local level who can hold your schools accountable. hold them accountable to be more effective, efficient, more responsive to the needs of the working taxpayer. the other story is about a woman named elizabeth. hold them accountable to be more about this time about three or four years ago, we were looking at making a change in wisconsin. most states across the country, even today, most states do not require recipients for things like food stamps to be signed up for employability scans. so i talked to people across the state, deciding to make that a priority.
we decided there were jobs available, even more in the last verse. and we would provide assistance for adults without children. we wanted to make sure that even though there was an expectation that we would help you when times are tough, our expectation is that is a safety net you bounce out of, not a handout stay in. we put in place requirements proposed requirements, that we have now acted on, that would require welfare recipients without children to be enrolled in an employability training. early on, when i went to make this proposal, i had an address in front of the joint legislature. we were talking about our budget and ideas, much like the president did last week. we talked about introducing people to the ideas you have.
i had heard from the folks at work in health and human services in the state about elizabeth. elizabeth to the ideas you have. , to her credit, before we proposed making this a requirement for public assistance, on her own, and in tough times, knew that she did not want to be that way forever. she voluntarily participated in one of our employability programs early on. her story is such a great story. she not only completed that, she did so well that they plugged her into the local technical college, where she was trained as a certified nursing assistant. i thought in my dress, i would talk about this and other initiatives before legislature. who better than to put elizabeth write-down the way from where my wife is and introduced her as part of my speech? but i could not do it. you see, elizabeth was working that day as a nursing assistant. she liked her job so much, she was going back to school as a registered nurse. the reason i bring that story up is sometimes people around the
country looked at reforms like those we propose and say people like the governor are trying to make it harder to get assistance. no i am not. i am trying to make it easier to get a job. elizabeth's story is when we are trying to aspire to across the country. not just in our state. we need to empower local governments to put in place innovative solutions to help people meet their full potential. growing up as a kid, i grew up in a small town. my dad was a pastor. my mom worked as a secretary. i learned early the value of hard work. i was a dishwasher at the countryside restaurant. i worked flipping hamburgers at mcdonald's to save up for college. i learned early on the value of hard work. one of the things i think is missing today is not what i experienced -- early on in my life, for a lot of us, we believed if you work hard and play by the rules in america opportunity should be open to
all of us. the outcome should be up to each of us individually. increasingly i think there are people who think the rules do not apply anymore. just having hard work and determination is not enough because the odds are stacked against them. i think much of that is because of the things we see being driven in washington. the massive power in washington is taking away some of those incentives. we would be better suited, in cases like elizabeth, if we put the power and resources in those structures, transfer the power back to the states, back to local governments, with the people in those communities and states can ultimately hold their government accountable. there are plenty of other examples. again, we can talk about that in greater detail. i am reminded about one of my favorite sayings from president reagan. there are many statements quoted but one that i think really addresses this particular issue is in his inaugural address, he said to the nation, we should all remember, federal
government did not create the states. the state created the federal government. now more than ever, that is important. in many ways, i think the president we currently have in the white house almost has an opposite view. when i heard his state of the union address, it sounds like a person who wants to grow the economy in washington. the rest of us in america want to grow the economy in cities and towns across this great nation. think about the disconnect. six of the 10 richest counties in america, according to median income, are right here in washington dc. six of the top 10. that suggests to me to visit disconnect between washington and the rest of us, who want to grow the economy with real people in cities and towns across this great country. that is where our american revival we talked about is really about transferring the power, from washington back to the people. getting it out to the states.
ultimately, out to the individuals. where they can hold their government accountable in a way that i think sets the standard for the future. i will just end with this summary. then i think we're going to bring some chairs in. years ago, i had a chance in september 2011, not long after i was in office, i had a chance to go to a conference in philadelphia. ago, i had a chancenow, that may not sound like a big deal. but to me, it was. as a kid, i loved history. i loved reading about our founders. i was a little geeky. i thought of our founders as superheroes, bigger than life. love reading about them. because my family did not have a lot of money, i never made it to washington or philadelphia. the first time i came to our nation's capital was because the american legion had a program, and they sent mebecause my family
did not have a lot to boys nation is one of the representatives from a state. about the only thing i have in common with bill clinton is he went in 1963. i went in 1985. it had a tremendous impact. i never made it to philadelphia. in the fall of 2011, i had a chance to participate at a conference. because i love history, still do , i got up early and went over to the park rangers' to see the liberty bell and go into independence hall. for someone who thought of the founders as bigger than life going to independence hall is like going to the league of nations. it is superhero. this is where they were. i got up early in the morning, right as the sun was coming in looked around in awe. in a room that is not much bigger than the one we are in now, looked at the chairs, looked at the desks. looked at the room. it dawned on me.
these were ordinary people. ordinary people who did something extraordinary. they did not risk their political careers. these were ordinary people who risked their lives for the freedoms we hold dear today. moments like that really put in place for me why america's so exceptional. why this is arguably the greatest country in the history of the world. it is because of people like those who sat in that room. ordinary people who did those extraordinary things and realized that in moments of crisis, crisis in our nation's history not just then but throughout time up until now what has made this country so exceptional has been in those times where economic orifice cal or military or spiritual what has made america great there have been men and women of courage who are willing to stand up and think more about the future of their children and their grandchildren than they thought of their own political futures. to me this is one of those times
where we can stand up and say the way to move to this country is not to go back in time. those were pretty good ideas back then. i think they're planned for a road map going forward than if we go back to those founding principles that say the power is best vested not in the federal government but in the states and more uponly in the hands of the people, that is a road map for us going forward whether it is on healthcare or education or transportation or some area, the best way we mob move this cupry is by transferring tampa bay country is by transferring pouty fresh washington out to the hard working people of this country. with that, i think we will move forward and make adjustments and take some questions. >> thank you. [applause]
>> now a coin toss who gets the first question. >> you are smarter than me so you ask the first question. >> i want to pick up on what you said about economicsuccess. when you were elected governor wisconsin was ranked as the 41st best state to do business in. it's now 17. how? >> well, a combination of things. i think there's really two categories in government being that the state, local and federal but most decisions are in the state and local level but a couple ofthings. two parallel silos. one of the guest things the government can do it get out of the way. >> we lowered property taxes.
my budget comes out neck week and they will be even lower than when you started. those things have an impact. putting money back in the hands ofthe people as consumers and small businesses as employ ares by also reining in spending. we reigned in on out of control lawsuits but in many areas it's about getting government out of the way stopping the barriers, make making it easier for folks to start from the ground up to do it quickly and effectively. the other thing is there's an appropriate role for -- to become a better partner. we have done more to work with career and technical education. i'm really good at reigning and spending i spent more in our technical colleges and some of our apprenticeship and colleges because i heard from colleges
and manufacturing and i.t. there was a tremendous need not just to fill spots that were open but if we could show that we could fill spots consistently they would actually add more work. we've seen great progress and i'm glad to say just this past week unemployment numbers one down last week. we look back five years ago and the unemployment rate was 9.2%. the other interesting thing is you know the federal government updates from the previous month. in november, we had 18,000 private sector jobs created. the best month we had in the private sector in 25 years and the best year-over-year numbers we had through november of 2013 to november of 2014 suns the 2014 since the late 1990's. and it is working. there's more to be done. and if the government would free up even more sources. i think we could really build off of that.
>> basically a lot of those jobs you took from my home state of illinois. southeastern wisconsin, kenosha county,halfway between chicago and milwaukee has had about i believe in the lat cup of years there was a story in one of our business jumps ha showed in a 2.5 year period almost 4,000 new jobs. many were organic but many were coming north. bruce rauner will put a little stop to that because i'm hoping that he will to a good job as the governor of illinois. clearly one of the areas where you could see the push of businesses not just because of the tax and business climate but just because of stability. >> you took a hybrid approach to obama care in your state and could you explain why you did this and how it is working? >> yeah, this is a good example of my overall government if you give people power at the state
and local level, we have democracy i think that people thought for many years throughout our history and we're showing it more in our state level now.i didn't accept the false choices that washington chooses to give you either not taking the expansion of medicaid which we don't or putting your tax buzzes at risk. my predecessor expanded the eligibility for medicaid healthcare for those in need to twice the rate of possiblerty. said medicaid isn't just for people in poverty but people at twice the level of poverty in the state, particularly those adults without children. and then as unfortunately is often done with policies like this he didn't put enough money into it. so there was a waiting list literally for people living in poverty who were on a waiting list to get assistance and access to this. because of the supreme court the other part i like but the part of the ruling on the affordable care act the state
can control their destinies when it comes to medicaid. we were actually in a great position because what it allowed us to do is to say we restored medicaid to what it was intended to be, that is providing access for people living in poverty and for all those living above that we transition into the marketplace. that means there's no waiting list in our state. and the kaiser family foundation, which doesn't have an angle said we did not take the medicaid expansion that has no insurance gaps so we tried to find common sense conservative reforms that could work. and that's a good example. put more power in the state and more states would be able to do that. >> how is it negotiating that with c.m.s. as a republican governor? you are one of the few who actually did go in and offer analternative. >> i'm not a lawyer and all due respect to the lawyers in the room, i don't typically care for lawyers much. told them that we could do it.
what they were trying to do is try to force the states to do that. just on principle, i asked fellow governors this, why is putting more people on medicaid a good thing? i want to help legislative people out of that. not because we want to push them out into the streets but because we want to empower people to control her own lives and december and this empowered us to do this. but in the case of the federal government, h.h.s. when we first announced this i think within minutes if i remember right literally came out and said you can't do this. i think it was a story in a publication on the hill and we pushed back and had our attorneys point out that yes, we could do that. and one 15 minutes to a half hour they changed the story because they realized legally we could. it wasn't because of a whole lot
of assistance to provide flexibility. >> back to something you mention which is the importance of education and training initiatives in wisconsin and the food stamps to educational training work place training. where else would you like to do >> we'd like to go the whole spectrum. we would like to go for trainability. you don't want to penalize those without kids. the other thing i just introduced in my budgetnext tuesday is adding to that not just for food stamps where meet federal approval and long what we can do is the drug testing. to me as i traveled my state and i hear increasingly when i tell the story around the country, i hear employers small business owner who is say we have jobs.
my state alone yesterday they were more than 70,000 jobs on our voluntary website that were open on in the state of wisconsin. it's great if you put money in the technical colleges. we need two things. we need people who know how to work. and i'm not talk about a skilled trade i'm talking about people who know how to show up every day for work five days a week. as a kid i worked in the country side restaurant flipping burgers in the town. many of us learn that way. unfortunately not everybody has those basic employability skills. but the other part is in transportation. employers will say give me somebody who can get up to work, pass a drug test.
we want those reforms. this is a classic example where the federal government, h.s.s. tend to push back on the states and say you can't do that. we need to open that up for innovation across america. >> my partner here, doug, and the parties in a different kind of area, you command the national guard. you have the same security concerns and same fears i'm sure in your state and off as all of us do. i wonder if you might want to comment on how you do you feel about the threat posed by isis and other enemies abroad and how that impacts your state and what -- any thoughts you have on it? >> that's a great question. the interesting thing you have as a governor not only do i and other governors as commanders in chiefof our national guard at
the state level which is a distinct honor and privilege but the head of the national guard is actually my chief homeland security officer. in a fairly frequent basis give me an other governors things to do on a frequent basis, security threats assessments. we go to get classified information about threats not only in our state but typically with our region across the country. without violating the terms of those specifically, i have to tell you for my children and others like them i see in an ongoing basis legitimate concerns about the national security state by state and it's one of the reasons why i said repeatedly one of the most important things we need out o our leaders is leadership. a firm leadership that shows our allies we're willing to stand with them and shows our
adversaries that we take their threats seriously. it's not a matter of if, it's not another attempted threat it's a matter of when. i want to make sure we take that threat to them and not wait for us. if i was in that position to the demand that i do everything in my power to make sure families in this country going to sleep safe at night knowing that they're safe at night. >> that's a question of priority. you balance the budget. came in, deposited twice into your rainy-day fundfor wisconsin. where do you see your budget? and where do you see the misplacement? >> routinely in government here there's this false choice between either you have to raise
taxes or you to dramatically cut service. you're talking aboutbeing a businessman. young or ole, businessman, businesswoman, where in business can you find someone successful that says times are tough, i'm either going to double the price or i'm going to cut the quality in half? nobody does that, right? in the world outside of government nobody does that. they figure out a way to balance cost and quality so they find a way to be more efficient to deliver a high quality product at a reasonable cost out there. yet in government that is the false choice we are given. we said we will not take that false choice. we enacted big reforms and peeled back collective bargaining and empowered not only the state government but all of the local governments. i knew if we were freed of the big government union contracts not only get more in pension and healthcare contributions, do
things like bid out the health insurance, which school districts did. stop overtime abuse. empower innovation at the local level. we took a $3.6 billion budget deficit and turned it into a surplus and balanced the budget each of the years i have been in office, and we will do it again this time around and the budget tuesday will finish off what balanced budget that is financially sound as well. and along the way our rainy day fund is 165 times bigger than when we took office. the pension and retirement system the only one fully funded in the country, and we made the tough decisions and our state is that much better off because of it. in washington, a matter of setting priorities. part is for me whether it is the local government, fire and
police or here in the federal government has got to be protection. safety and security of the american citizens and of those freedom loving people around the world who love the values. you can be responsible in doing that and make responsible reasonable expectations of how to streamline the way that we provide that security through the department of defense and other mechanisms out of this. that has to be at the top of the list. and that for a good part goes back to the theme of what i mentioned. to me to tackle the challenges take money otherwise spent here or dictated here and send it back to the states and local governments where it is much more accountable to the regular taxpayer. give examples. medicaid is an issue we talked about many times before. paul ryan talked about it in block grants. give it back to the states.
what we do in wisconsin is different than new york or california or texas or even illinois. why not empower innovators at the local and state level to do the things that are in the best interests of their taxpayers and in the best interests of the people they are there to serve instead of the one size fits all mentality. we have something you talked about for years, we are talking about maintenance of effort. why is it that a state or local leader can't make an innovation without federal regulation kicking in that says you can't do that unless you kick certain people off of your program. we were lucky because of the supreme court. i said i would rather keep the money at the state and local money. transportation, instead of sending a dollar washington where they skim off costs and send it back to me, why not keep it local. say when it comes to education instead of sending that money here, why not keep that dollar back in the local community so that the local school board can put that money in the classroom. so many examples out there that would help us not only balance the budget in the end, it would avoid the false choice of between balancing the budget and giving up services. do it more effectively and more efficiently and ultimately in a way that is more accountable at
the local and state level. >> how much time do we have left? i have two questions and i want to make sure i get to one. >> you get a minute each. we have about two minutesleft. >> here is my question really kind of off the policy areabut i think it is important to me and i think it might be important to others.four years ago -- you have two boys in public high school in milwaukee. >> yes. >> you live in a house in milwaukee. danette is living in that house, and in the state capitol where you are you were beinginvaded by the colleagues ofthe teachers and others who are responsible for your kids in school and thousands of others and it was on the national news. and six weeks before that you were a county executive and nobody in the country knew anything about you. all of a sudden there it is. you are in there in your office and people are coming in in
droves and protests. your kids are in public school. how did you cope with that? how was that? how did you maintain your resolve? >> family and faith played a big part in it. my faith had a big impact in terms of feeling called to run for governor and for the rightreasons. you mentioned my boys, part of the reason why we got in the race early on, knowing it would be difficult, never dreaming it would be that difficult after the election, but just knowing the election itself would be difficult is because we were worried back then. we had a $3.6 billion budget deficit, record job loss, double digit tax increases. we could see our state was headed in the wrong direction. we were worried that our sons were going to grow up in a state that wasn't as great as the one we grew up in. this is why we got in the race. as a family we thought about it and prayed about it. our faith and family and our circle of friends helped keep us focused, and in the height of
this when we had the death threats not just against me but the threats against my family, when we had the protests not just at the capitol or the governor's residence but our home outside of milwaukee, our family home, we were able to sustain that because we knew we were doing the right thing. i kept saying over and over again we need to think more about the next generation than we do about the next election. because of that, we not only won that battle, i think arguably the people of my state, a blue state, purple at best, ultimately saw not once but twice in times of crisis what people want more than anything is leadership. we followed through on the leadership but it wasn't easy and it is part of the reason why we have been able to take on additional reforms because we have been tested and we are able to handle them. >> you get the final question. >> no, it is your turn. >> all yours. >> we covered almost everything except energy. and we have got some wonderful wonderful environmental pluses in the state. beautiful lakes in madisonandthe forests you have and thegreat
lakes. and yet you have policies coming out of washington that might be productive use of energy and resources. just interested to hear your thoughts on the environment and energy and how you are handling some of these things coming out of washington? >> both on energy and resource interesting, we have, as you alluded to, the only state in the union surrounded by two great lakes and the greatest river in the country. filled with 15,000 inland lakes. 5,000 more than minnesota, by the way, and all of ours have fish in them. a great place to be in and tremendous natural resources from one end of the state to other. demographically and geographically very much a
microcosm of america and we found a way to be environmentally and economically sustainable. i often said the best way to be green is to make green or save green. if i can help find a way for people and employers to make money or to save money while being environmentally sound, that is the best way to be green is make sustainable, economically and environmentally. wisconsin has been a leader in many ways in that regard, but we are also very much challenged. challenged by what is being proposed here in washington just like many other states across the country, particularly in the industrial midwest because of the ideas and rules proposed out of the federal government stand to see massive job loss and significant rate increases for our hard working people. and so, this is one where one of my problems with this administration, amongst others is they seem to think it is an either/or proposition. either be environmentally sound or economically sound. i think it is one of those false choices. you can do both. that means having an all of the above energy policy. it means embracing the resources we have not only here in america, but here in north
america. our allies are ready and willing, whether with the keystone or looking with industrial stand like in our state and the wide open shale deposits we have. i think it is also a national security issue when you look at prominence of people like putin in russia and others out there part of his strength in the world is because of his resource asset and what he is doing with that. if we were more aggressive in providing our own means and finding ways to export to other places around the world, we would diminish the impact of other parts that are a direct security threat to our nation and our interests. i think we need to say we want all of the above both for a stronger economy as well as for a strong sense of safety. >> i want to take this opportunity to thank fred for his leadership at the american action forum, and i hope you will join me in thanking the governor for an outstanding kickoff to the lecture series named after fred. >> thanks.
>> that the fcc focusing on net neutrality in february, he spoke with two industry executives at the consumer electronics show. chris riley and hank hultquist. >> at the end of the day, the internet needs strong, enforceable, effective rules. those need to include non-determination and resource management, and they need to be effectively enforceable. >> the problem we have now with where the net neutrality issue has gone is that -- there is a lot of consensus around the fcc's legal authority to adopt rules and jurisdictional things. our concern is they are going to undo a regulatory status that has existed now for over a decade.
>> monday night at 8:00 eastern on "the communicators." >> on thursday president obama spoke to house democrats at the retreat in philadelphia, where they discussed policies and strategies for the next two years. he repeated some proposals from his state of the union speech. he also urged lawmakers not to be defensive about the accomplishments a during his administration or the principles of the democratic party. president obama was introduced by house minority whip steny hoyer. this is just under 30 minutes. [applause] >> for those of you who have already had dinner, i greet you.
tonight the members of caucus, i am honored to welcome our president and our partner for the conference here in philadelphia. last week, in his state of the union address, the president told congress -- and i quote -- we have risen from recession free to write our own future than any other nation on earth. it is now up to us to choose what we want to be over the next 15 years for decades to come. working with the democratically-led congress, president obama oversaw a period of extraordinary economic recovery. from the depths of the worst recession americans have seen in three quarters of a century. under president obama, the unemployment rate has dropped
from over 10% to less than 6%. the budget deficit has been halved. our country is now the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas. making us less dependent on foreign energy imports and also contributing to the fall in prices. manufacturing exports are rising. that's because we are making it in america. [applause] i am sure the president is listening. [laughter] so are high school graduation rates, and millions of previosly uninsured americans now have health coverage. [applause] by almost every indicator, our nation is doing better than it has since the president's inauguration. except for one.
a critically important one. which president obama talked at length about in his state of the union. and that is the focus of this issue conference. and that, of course, is the state of our middle class. each of us has heard stories from our constituents about how middle-class status is slipping further and further from too many people's grasp. it is, therefore, our responsibility and our mission as the president said, to create the future that america deserves by working together to ensure that the gains we have made will make the middle class and all who aspire to the middle class more prosperous, more confident, and yes, more secure. last tuesday night, president obama laid out a blueprint to do just that.
the middle class economic agenda he put forward, which includes among others, expanding access to higher education, a new child tax credit, and paid family leave, is a common sense and compelling agenda that will give working families more and more security. this is not a partisan goal. and we hope republicans will work with us to bring the president's proposals to the floor for a vote. but if republicans choose partisanship over progress, the american people must see us fighting for what we believe is this country's future. a future where being laid off doesn't mean a lost decade for you and your family. a future where when you work hard, you earn a living wage. [applause] a future where getting sick
doesn't mean a lifetime of debt and worry. a future where retirement does not need to be postponed. again, and again, and again. we and the president believe that the future is one we can and must achieve. for the american people. so it is up to us and the president, as one democratic team, to work together to accomplish these objectives and this vision for our country and all those who strive to realize america's promise and dream. on the night that he was elected in 2008, president obama said this -- let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of service, and responsibility. where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and
look after not only ourselves, but each other. in this country, we rise or fall as one nation, one people. and he went on to say - what we have already achieved on that night gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. ladies and gentlemen, our partner for a better america the president of the united states, barack obama. [applause] [cheering] >> thank you. hey! hello, hello, hello!
hello, democrats! hey! thank you so much! thank you! everybody, sit down. sit down. good to be -- good to be with you, democrats. [cheering] good to be in philadelphia. [applause] my understanding is we still have our host, mayor nutter, here. where is he? there he is, right there. [applause] i want to just remind the new england and pacific northwest that this is the city of brotherly love, so -- so regardless of what you think about sunday, i want you all to keep it clean. [laughter] i am not taking sides on that
one. i want to begin by -- oh, bring your own footballs. [laughter] ooooh. ooooh. wow. [laughter] and you are, what, a giants fan? that is why he is so resentful. [laughter] i -- i -- let me begin by just acknowledging your outstanding leadership, starting with someone, who somehow, can travel for 17 hours, come off the plane, perfectly coiffed, not a wrinkle on her. happy as a clam. come back in other 17 hours later, after two and a half, three days of programs, and go straight to a retreat of her caucus, and never miss a beat.
i don't know what she drinks along with that chocolate, but i want some of it. [laughter] your outstanding leader, nancy pelosi. give nancy a round of applause. [applause] [cheering] joe crowley also went on that trip, and didn't look perfectly coiffed when he got off the plane. [laughter] but give joe crowley a big round
of applause also. [applause] i want to thank steny for this gracious introduction. javier, who helped, obviously, make this happen and providing outstanding leadership all the time. jim clyburn, one of my favorite people. just an extraordinary gentlemen and leader. we love him and debbie wasserman schultz, our chairwoman of the dnc, thank you so much. [applause] and then, the guy who i had a chance to see before i came out. just to let him know that he should not feel overly disappointed when his hair gets gray because in this job, it will. ben ray lujan, the dccc chair. [applause] i used to be youthful and
attractive like him. [laughter] we will see how long that lasts, brother. you're going to have hair like steve israel. [laughter] he -- you know, i'm not going to give a long speech because i just gave one. and i want to spend most of the time on questions. let me summarize, then, what i said last week. we have been through an extraordinarily challenging journey. the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes. we have seen the incredible courage and sacrifice, but also the costs of two difficult wars. there has been, you know, ups
and downs in every region of the country, and people feeling as if the economy is churning in ways that defy their control. and yet, despite all the challenges, despite all the fears, despite all the difficulties, over the last six years, what we have seen is the american people fighting their way back. and because of them, because of their resilience and their grip and their hard work, and because you and i together made some really tough choices -- sometimes politically unpopular choices -- america has come back. we have seen 11 million jobs created.
the best job growth since the 1990's. the best job growth in manufacturing since the 1990's. steepest drop in the unemployment rate in 30 years. the deficit is cut by two thirds. over 10 million people with health insurance that didn't have it before. [applause] we have seen reading scores go up. [applause] high school graduation rates go up. more young people attending college than ever before. we are number one in oil production, number one in natural gas production. doubled clean energy production. solar power, up tenfold. wind power, up threefold. carbon pollution down. there is no economic metric by which we are not better off than when i took office, and that is because of the extraordinary will and dedication of the
american people. but also because all of you have done a terrific job. and i'm proud of you for that. [applause] what we also know is we've now got some tough choices to make. going forward, are we going to be an economy in which a few do spectacularly well? or are we going to be an economy in which everybody who is willing to work hard is getting a fair shot and can succeed? [applause] are we going to be an economy that continues to invest in innovation and infrastructure? all the ingredients that are necessary to power this economy through the 21st century.